So you have a baby who just won’t nap?
Naps are of the main sources of frustration for parents. There are many many reasons why babies won’t nap, but I’m just gonna go over FIVE main reasons in this post and what you can do about it.
1. Your baby is simply not tired enough! This is especially true for babies who are older and any fussing or crying are mistaken as tired cues. Sometimes fussing and agitation are signs of unexpressed feelings. How to tell the difference? My suggestion is to keep a sleep log, observe the awake window (hours of when you baby is alert) and when your child is truly tired – yawning, rubbing eyes are good indicators. If your baby is fussing and wanting to go for a cry (after all immediate needs have been met) then it would good to do some listening.
2. Environment is not nap conducive. What’s the nap environment like? From my experience, just making small changes such as where the baby sleeps (in the bedroom instead of in the living room), adding blackout curtains to make the room as dark as possible, using white noise as daytime noise filter or introducing a pre-nap routine can do wonders!
3. Your baby is overtired/overtstimulated. Babies have very small awake windows but the windows get longer in between sleeps as they grow older. But because they are learning A LOT and everything is new, they sometimes get overstimulated and it makes it harder for them to take a nap. Once they begin to feel stressed out from the stimulation, they cry and get fussy. I see this as their natural mechanism to release tension in their bodies, in order to relax into a good nap. I suggest you bring your baby into her napping place, and allow her a few minutes to cry in your arms to release. Then tell her it’s time for rest and nap time. Next, is to reduce the stress level if you find your baby gets stimulated very easily.
4. FOMO – have you heard of this acronym? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This is especially true for older babies and toddlers who simply want to be a part of daily actions all day long. But we know that if the nap is missed, the consequences would be horrible for everyone. I suggest setting loving limits around nap time, that he needs that rest in order for him to play well for the rest of the day until bedtime. Maybe you could introduce a short one-to-one play time before his usual nap time, so that his need to play is satisfied, and that he’s more willing to wind down and nap.
5. Could it be that your baby is dependent on motion nap? Perhaps you find yourself rocking your baby for naps all the way to toddlerhood and then end up using the swing? I don’t consider this as too much of an issue but if you find that you need to constantly provide motion in order to get your child to nap, then that might be an issue. I would suggest that you gradually reduce the motion until you find your baby to be falling asleep with much less motion, and then transition to a still-surface nap.
What do you think is the cause of your baby’s inability to nap longer? How do you help them take restorative naps?
I’d love to hear what worked for you!